Northwestern’s Pete Nance transferring to North Carolina

Big Ten Tournament - Second Round - Northwestern v Iowa
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Northwestern forward Pete Nance says he’ll transfer to North Carolina.

The 6-foot-10, 225-pound senior announced his commitment to play his fifth year for the Tar Heels in a social-media post Saturday. It’s a significant addition for UNC, offering a potential replacement for departing starter Brady Manek from a run to last season’s NCAA championship game.

Nance averaged 14.6 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Wildcats last year, including 45.2% from 3-point range.

The Tar Heels return four starters in big man Armando Bacot, guards Caleb Love and R.J. Davis, and versatile swingman Leaky Black. But Nance offers size with the ability to stretch defenses after UNC lost the 6-9 Manek, who transferred from Oklahoma and averaged 15.1 points while shooting 40.3% on 3-pointers.

With Manek helping to space the floor, the Tar Heels made a late-season push to a record 21st Final Four before falling to Kansas in the NCAA final in Hubert Davis’ debut coaching season.

No. 24 Iowa routs Northwestern with record tourney showing

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INDIANAPOLIS — Keegan Murray scored 26 points, Jordan Bohannon had 17 and No. 24 Iowa beat Northwestern 112-76 in Thursday’s Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.

Murray was 11 of 16 from the field and also had eight rebounds as the Hawkeyes (23-9) delivered a historic performance in coach Fran McCaffery’s 400th game. They broke single-game tourney records for points, field goals (43) and 3-point baskets (19).

Maryland set the previous scoring record of 97 points in March 2016. Ohio State made 37 field goals in March 2012, and Illinois twice made 14 3s in tourney games in 2016 and 2018.

The Wildcats (15-16) were led by Ryan Young with 14 points and Boo Buie with 12.

But this one was never close.

Iowa opened the game on a 17-4 run, extended the margin to 50-26 late in the first half and headed to the locker room with a 64-31 cushion.

Northwestern couldn’t get closer than 26 in the second half – until Iowa pulled its final starters with 7 1/2 minutes to play – and failed to reach the Big Ten quarterfinals for the fifth consecutive year.

Iowa has won nine of its last 11, and 20 of its 23 wins have come by double digits.

BIG PICTURE

Northwestern: The Wildcats seem like they are running in place as a program. With three senior starters unlikely to return next season, coach Chris Collins has plenty of work to do.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes have done more than enough to get into the NCAA Tournament. If they want to improve their seeding, though, a deep run in Indianapolis would help. McCaffery’s squad made a strong statement Thursday.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win over the Big Ten’s No. 12 seed won’t do much to strengthen Iowa’s resume or its hold on a spot in the Top 25. Reaching Saturday’s semifinals might.

STAT PACK

Northwestern: Pete Nance scored 11 points and Robbie Beran had 10. … The Wildcats were outrebounded 45-18. … Northwestern had won its previous two and three of its last five

Iowa: Bohannon moved within eight points of hitting the 2,000-point mark after making five 3s. … Payton Sandfort had 13 points while Filip Rebraca collected 10 points and nine rebounds. … Connor McCaffery also finished with 10 points.

UP NEXT

Northwestern: The Wildcats face a long offseason to contemplate how to right the program.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes take on unranked Rutgers in Friday’s second quarterfinal game.

No. 13 Illini survive scare against Northwestern, 73-66

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill.- Kofi Cockburn scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds to help No. 13 Illinois stave off a late comeback by Northwestern to beat the Wildcats 73-66 on Sunday.

Illinois led by 18 points after Alfonso Plummer’s 3-pointer with 13:05 left, but Northwestern responded with a 19-2 run to pull within one point with 6:16 to go.

The Illini (18-6, 11-3 Big Ten) turned to 7-foot center Cockburn for an answer, and he obliged, scoring six straight points to make it a 61-56 lead with 4:19 to play. He scored the team’s final three buckets.

“I had a career-high (six) turnovers today,” said Cockburn, who recorded his 41st career double-double to tie Illinois’ record set by Skip Thoren (1963-1965). “It’s about focusing, trying to slow the game down and not rushing stuff, being strong with the ball. I got frustrated, and I’m sure these guys did, too. We’re going to grow from that.”

The home win keeps the Illini in sole possession of first place in the Big Ten, sitting a half-game ahead of Purdue and one game ahead of Wisconsin after a week in which all three teams lost.

Ty Berry came off the bench to lead the Wildcats (12-11, 5-9 Big Ten) with 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including going 4 of 6 from 3-point range. Chase Audige added 12 points and Pete Nance tacked on 10.

“(Cockburn) is just such a tough guy to play against,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “There’s no one like him in the country with that force, with that size. It just puts a lot of pressure on you in a lot of ways.”

Illinois took a 44-30 lead into halftime thanks in part to its 9-of-16 shooting from 3-point range in the first half, including four treys from Plummer and a pair from freshman RJ Melendez.

Plummer finished the game with 19 points, including making 5 of his 11 3-point attempts. Melendez added a career-high 14 points and six rebounds.

“My style of play has grown a lot,” Melendez said. “Just being with the vets every time in practice, going at them, guarding them because I know it’s going to make me better. Getting all the knowledge I can.”

A bucket from Cockburn, then dunks from Omar Payne and Melendez helped Illinois build an 18-point lead before the under-12 timeout. Payne blocked a shot by Elyjah Williams, then Coleman Hawkins started the Illini on a fastbreak, providing a smooth dish for a Melendez dunk that made it 50-32 with 14:37 to play.

Northwestern then went on its run.

BIG PICTURE

Northwestern: The Wildcats are far from an easy beat. They may not have the firepower to get over on the league’s elite teams, but there’s an opportunity to finish the season above .500 with six games to go and Nebraska, Minnesota (twice) and Penn State still on the schedule.

Illinois: The Illini have now won 25 of their last 29 games in Big Ten play. The team is prone to offensive lulls, but Cockburn is the ultimate security blanket in the paint. Perimeter threats like Plummer continue to capitalize on the space created by the star center’s presence.

UP NEXT

Northwestern: Hosts Purdue on Wednesday.

Illinois: At Rutgers on Wednesday.

Davis scores 27 as No. 8 Wisconsin holds off Northwestern

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EVANSTON, Ill. – Johnny Davis scored 27 points to help No. 8 Wisconsin beat Northwestern 82-76 on Tuesday night.

Wisconsin (15-2, 6-1 Big Ten) earned its seventh straight win, building on its best start since it was also 15-2 during the 2014-15 season.

Chucky Hepburn banked home a 60-foot heave at the halftime buzzer for two of his 14 points, while Tyler Wahl also scored 14 and Brad Davison finished with 13 for the Badgers.

Northwestern was unable to build on its 64-62 win at Michigan State on Saturday, losing for the fifth time in six games. Chase Audige scored 23 points for the Wildcats (9-7, 2-5), and Boo Buie had 19.

Audige’s driving layup trimmed Wisconsin’s lead to three in the final seconds in the first half, but Hepburn’s long-range bank shot as time expired made it 41-35 at the break.

The Badgers carried the momentum into the second half. Layups for Wahl and Steven Crowl made it 47-37 with 18:26 left.

The Wildcats pulled within four on Buie’s 3-pointer with 48 seconds left. Davis then missed two foul shots, but Pete Nance missed a wild shot for Northwestern at the other end. Wahl made two foul shots to help Wisconsin hold on in the final seconds.

Crowl finished with 10 points in the Badgers’ seventh straight win in the series against the Wildcats.

Ryan Young had 13 points for Northwestern. Nance finished with 10 points, six rebounds and five assists after he missed the victory over the Spartans with an ankle injury.

BIG PICTURE

Wisconsin: This is a typical Wisconsin team, only with a little more scoring punch. The Badgers have scored at least 70 points in every game during their win streak. Davis is silky smooth, and delivered at a couple key moments down the stretch.

Northwestern: The Wildcats played hard all the way to the end, but they were unable to run down the deeper Badgers.

UP NEXT

Wisconsin: Hosts No. 14 Michigan State on Friday night.

Northwestern: Visits No. 4 Purdue on Sunday afternoon.

No. 10 Michigan State rallies to beat Northwestern 73-67

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EVANSTON, Ill.- Gabe Brown scored 20 points, Marcus Bingham Jr. added 13 and No. 10 Michigan State rallied from a 13-point first-half deficit for a 73-67 victory over Northwestern on Sunday.

Max Christie had 11 points and Joey Hauser added 10 as the Spartans (12-2, 3-0 Big Ten) won their seventh straight.

Pete Nance had 13 points before fouling out and Boo Buie and Chase Audige had 12 points apiece for Northwestern (8-3, 1-1).

Northwestern beat then No. 4 Michigan State 79-65 at Welsh-Ryan Arena last season. The Wildcats led virtually the entire first half and had a 31-18 advantage following a Nance basket with just over three minutes left before the break.

The Wildcats led 33-26 at halftime after holding Michigan State to 9-for-27 shooting, including 1 for 10 on 3-pointers, in the first half.

The Spartans picked up the pace at the start of the second half, putting together eight straight points – capped by a short jumper by Brown – to grab a 36-35 lead with 17 minutes. It was MSU’s first lead since the opening minutes of the first half.

MSU led 52-44 with just under 10 minutes left before NU put together a 13-5 spurt for a tie at 57, but Michigan State ran off eight straight points to regain command with 4 1/2 minutes to go.

The Spartans, though, went scoreless for nearly four minutes as Northwestern pulled within 65-63. Brown then essentially put the game away with a 3-pointer with 49.1 seconds remaining.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: The Spartans also trailed at halftime in their last game against High Point before rallying in the second half for an 81-68 win. Although they overcame a 13-point deficit on Sunday, uneven performances won’t lead to much success in conference play.

Northwestern: The Wildcats aren’t going to overwhelm anyone with talent in the ultra competitive Big Ten, so the key to their success will be the effort on the defensive end. Northwestern held Maryland to 17-for-59 (28.8 percent) in the conference opener last month. Still, the Wildcats will need more production on the offensive end to win games.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: Host Nebraska on Wednesday night.

Northwestern: Host Penn State on Wednesday night.

Louisville rallies from 18 down to beat Northwestern 62-53

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SAN ANTONIO — Down big early, Kianna Smith and Louisville stayed calm. Then they put together one of the biggest comebacks in women’s NCAA Tournament history.

Smith scored 16 points and the No. 2 seed Cardinals advanced to the Sweet 16 by rallying from 18 down to beat seventh-seeded Northwestern 62-53 on Wednesday night.

“We’re tough. We got down early but we didn’t give up,” said Dana Evans, who added 14 points. “We didn’t get rattled. We stayed together. We trusted the process.”

The comeback was tied for the third-largest ever in the women’s tournament, according to ESPN.

The Cardinals (25-3) got off to a rough start, trailing 25-7 late in the first quarter. It was the second straight game Louisville had a terrible start.

“Back-to-back ballgames now, going to change my pregame speech,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “Those two can’t get much worse.”

Louisville slowly started to chip away on offense thanks to stellar defense. After the opening 10 minutes, the Cardinals held Northwestern to 28 points the rest of the game.

“Great mental effort by everyone on this ballclub,” Walz said.

The deficit was 40-28 midway through the third quarter before the Cardinals scored 17 straight points. The game was tied at 40 heading into the fourth, and Louisville increased its first lead to 45-40 before Lindsay Pulliam – Northwestern’s third-ever 2,000-point scorer – got her only basket of the game.

The Wildcats (16-9) closed to 53-50 on Jordan Hamilton’s 3-pointer with 3:26 left. They had a chance to cut into the deficit, but Veronica Burton missed two free throws 30 seconds later.

Louisville converted nine of 10 free throws down the stretch, including four by freshman Olivia Cochran, who had 13 points and 15 rebounds.

Northwestern blitzed Louisville right from the start, scoring the game’s first seven points and opening a 13-2 lead, leading to a timeout by the Cardinals. It didn’t get much better, with the Wildcats going 4 for 4 from 3-point range on their way to a 25-10 lead after one quarter.

“We didn’t expect to get down that much. They punched us in the face and we responded well,” Evans said. “We started to settle down and make shots.”

The Wildcats cooled off in the second quarter and didn’t score a point for the first 5:22 of the period. A fast-break layup by Courtney Shaw ended the drought and sparked a 7-0 run for Northwestern – the only points the team would score in the period. Louisville closed to 32-20 at the half.

“I feel like they started hitting shots and ours weren’t dropping in the same way,” Burton said. “We had the same fight, we wanted it still, it’s just things started going their way, calls started going their way. It’s just tough, we ran out of gas it seemed like.”

The loss potentially ended the brilliant career of Pulliam. The senior guard was 1 for 11 from the field for just four points.

Hamilton scored 17 points for Northwestern.

“Last year we had a great team, maybe a Final Four team, that never got a chance to prove it,” Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said. “So tonight I think they proved how much fight we have and how tough we are and what a great team to be part of.”

TIP-INS

Northwestern fell to 0-3 all-time against Louisville, with the other two meetings coming in 1987 and 1994. … McKeown took George Washington to four Sweet 16s when he was coach there before coming to the Illinois school.

UP NEXT

Louisville will face Oregon in the Sweet 16.